Are you planning a liveaboard dive trip with family or friends? Having a member of your group who doesn’t scuba dive shouldn’t take away from the fun. Read on for the best diving liveaboard trips for non-divers; handpicked with you in mind.
When booking for a mixed group, be sure that the boat is more than just snorkeler friendly. Other activities like kayaking and shore excursions add value to the trip. And, check for onboard amenities like hot tubs and spa services.
Many boats offer a discounted rate for non-divers, too. You should research these expenses in advance and budget accordingly. For a list of The Adventure Junkies trusted providers, check out The Adventure Xperience.
For more of our liveaboard recommendations, check out these popular articles:
QUICK ANSWER – BEST LIVEABOARD TRIPS FOR NON-DIVERS
1. MV BAVARIA – THAILAND
2. TURKS AND CAICOS EXPLORER II – TURKS & CAICOS
3. MV PLANCIUS – POLAR REGIONS
4. AMR RED SEA DEFENDER – EGYPT
5. KONA AGGRESSOR II – HAWAII
6. SPIRIT OF FREEDOM – AUSTRALIA
7. KLM MARI – INDONESIA
8. PY ATLANTIS AZORES – PHILIPPINES
9. CAT PPALU – BAHAMAS
10. TIP TOP II – GALAPAGOS
TRIP REVIEWS – DIVING LIVEABOARD TRIPS FOR NON-DIVERS
MV BAVARIA – THAILAND
Photo Credit: MV Bavaria, Thailand Liveaboard
With a variety of itineraries in Thailand and Burma, this liveaboard has something for everyone. But, mixed groups are best suited to short 3-day trips through the Similans.
While the MV Bavaria is not a luxury boat, she is ranked among the best in Southeast Asia. Guests can expect small group sizes and a high ratio of staff to guests. And, this vessel has some of the most spacious and comfortable common areas in the region.
Guests can expect traditional Asian cuisine, comfortable cabins, multiple sun decks, a newly updated lounge, and plenty of activities underwater. Good service and facilities make this an excellent choice for budget-minded travelers.
This boat offers Nitrox, and is friendly to divers of all levels. Courses are available onboard, and the crew is familiar with sidemount, tech, and rebreather setups.
TURKS AND CAICOS EXPLORER II – TURKS AND CAICOS
Photo Credit: Turks and Caicos Explorer II Liveaboard
Whether guests prefer to snorkel or stay onboard, non-divers will find plenty to do while sailing on the Turks and Caicos Explorer II. Five diving and snorkeling opportunities daily mean as much time in the water as you want.
Luxury cabins, spacious and air-conditioned saloon, multiple sun decks, and a wet bar on deck make it just as tempting to stay aboard. A high crew to guests ratio allows the staff to provide world-class service at all times.
This liveaboard offers plenty of little extras, too. Hot chocolate and heated towels after every night dive, gourmet snacks throughout the day, and educational briefings and presentations add value.
Seasonal whale watching trips to the Silver Banks are available. Non-diving itineraries focus on photography and snorkeling alongside these gentle giants.
MV PLANCIUS – POLAR REGIONS
Photo Credit: M/V Plancius, Polor Regions Liveaboard
Polar expeditions aren’t for the faint of heart. But, they are surprisingly convenient for mixed groups. Because of the climate, most boats limit diving to one tank per day. The rest of your time onboard will be dedicated to trekking, wildlife watching and photography, and kayaking.
The M/V Plancius is a former oceanographic research vessel. She can accommodate over 100 guests, and reach some of the planet’s most isolated waters with ease. The size of this liveaboard promises a smooth ride, even in poor weather.
Other perks include camera facilities, educational lectures and presentations, zodiac tours of the sea ice, and special itinerary-specific activities.
AMR RED SEA DEFENDER – EGYPT
Photo Credit: AMR Red Sea Defender, Egypt Liveaboard
Non-divers and snorkelers will never feel left out on a voyage with the AMR Red Sea Defender. Conservationists and citizen scientists can choose from itineraries focused on specific marine life like sharks, turtles, or dolphins. Global warming research expeditions are also available.
Spacious common areas, cozy cabins, and delicious traditional cuisine make for a comfortable week at sea. With daily lectures and presentations in addition to 3 to 5 diving and snorkeling opportunities, you’ll likely have a busy week.
While the Red Sea is a year-round destination, water temperatures and wind make winter less enjoyable for snorkelers. Summer months are best for spotting whale sharks and manta rays, and conditions are better for non-divers.
KONA AGGRESSOR II – HAWAII
Photo Credit: Kona Aggressor II, Hawaii Liveaboard
Snorkelers are in for a treat aboard the Kona Aggressor II. This boat cruises the stunning reefs along the western coast of Hawaii’s Big Island year round.
The Aggressor Fleet is a name synonymous with luxury in the liveaboard industry, and this vessel is no different. Guests can expect well-appointed cabins, spacious and air-conditioned common areas, complimentary beer and wine, and delicious chef-prepared meals. Two large sundecks and a hot tub only sweeten the deal.
The real treat for non-divers is the variety of marine life they can encounter on the surface. Snorkeling with manta rays is a standard part of the itinerary. While exploring the reef, non-divers can also encounter a variety of colorful reef fish, sea turtles, and dolphins.
Other special features on this liveaboard include whale watching, black water diving, and manta night dives.
SPIRIT OF FREEDOM – AUSTRALIA
Photo Credit: Spirit of Freedom, Australia Liveaboard
Cruising both the Great Barrier Reef and the Coral Sea, the Spirit of Freedom offers a variety of 3 to 7 day itineraries. All trips on this liveaboard are non-diver friendly. Children over 10 are welcome, and this boat provides family courses and kid-friendly instructors.
Amenities like private bathrooms in every cabin, free internet, and multiple sun decks make time onboard comfortable. Daily snorkeling and swimming are available, and best enjoyed on Ribbon Reef itineraries.
Seasonal snorkeling encounters with dwarf minke whales are possible during June and July, as part of a non-diving itinerary.
KLM MARI – INDONESIA
Photo Credit: KLM Mari, Indonesia Liveaboard
Indonesia is a destination for serious divers, and few boats operating in the region are non-diver friendly. The KLM Mari is an awesome choice for mixed groups and features kid-friendly programs, too.
Low guest numbers and a spacious floorplan make this vessel a great choice for those who get cabin fever. A variety of exciting expeditions are available throughout the region, lasting between 3 and 10 days.
Rental equipment and courses are available onboard. Guided snorkeling and land excursions are offered on some routes. Bali jungle hikes and safaris combine well with your liveaboard itinerary.
Indonesia has high marine park fees. These apply to non-divers in your group too and should be a planned part of your budget.
PY ATLANTIS AZORES – PHILIPPINES
Photo Credit: PY Atlantis Azores, Philippines Liveaboard
With some of the best diving on planet earth, there are already plenty of reasons to visit the Philippines. The PY Atlantis Azores offers a variety of seasonal, non-diver friendly itineraries visiting the region’s best sites.
Onboard amenities include multiple sun decks, lavish staterooms, air-conditioned common areas, and even an on-deck hot tub. Snorkelers will have access to a shaded deck for entering and exiting the water, as well as dive tenders.
Spring is the best season for diving and snorkeling with whale sharks. And, itineraries during these months are perfect for mixed groups. Guided snorkeling, photography, and environmental education are included.
Chef prepared meals, personal equipment and camera stations, and complimentary beer add value to the trip. This boat is also rebreather and tech diving friendly.
CAT PPALU – BAHAMAS
Photo Credit: Cat Ppalu, Bahamas Liveaboard
More than just a liveaboard, the Cat Ppalu offers mixed groups the chance to sail the Bahamas in style. A week at sea covers the best dive and snorkel sites in the region, with sharks and wrecks aplenty.
Guests can join an existing itinerary, or charter the entire boat, perfect for large groups. Advertised prices include watersports like SUP and kayaking, shore excursions, and drinks from the bar. Interested guests are welcome to take a free sailing lesson or two.
The size of this boat makes it best for diving and snorkeling groups. This catamaran features a small top deck with little shade, shared bathrooms, and snug cabins. Guests remaining onboard all day might prefer a bit more space to stretch out.
Rental equipment, courses, and dive training are all available with prior notice. And, this boat offers special pricing for groups completing their Open Water course at sea.
TIP TOP II – GALAPAGOS
Photo Credit: Tip Top II, Galapagos Liveaboard
While scuba diving is the highlight for many guests in the Galapagos Islands, there is plenty to see and do without a tank on your back. Snorkeling, island excursions, nature watching and photography, and more make this destination perfect for non-divers too.
The Tip Top II is a non-diving vessel that focuses on naturalist cruises lasting between 6 and 14 days. Guests can expect visits to sea lion colonies, snorkeling with penguins and turtles, a hike to the top of Bartolome Island, and more.
Above water, this liveaboard features spacious air-conditioned cabins and common areas, sun decks, an outdoor lounge and bar, and private bathrooms. A low guest to staff ratio means excellent service, and plenty of room to stretch your legs onboard.
COMPARISON TABLE – FIND BEST DIVING LIVEABOARD TRIPS FOR NON-DIVERS
5 THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN CHOOSING A DIVING LIVEABOARD TRIP FOR NON-DIVERS
How much non-diving guests enjoy their liveaboard experience will depend on the boat’s amenities. Remember that they will be spending the majority of their time onboard, unlike the divers in your group.
Special features like hot tubs, saunas, and spa services can help guests pass their time and enjoy some holiday luxury at sea. Spacious and well-appointed common areas are also good for relaxation. If possible, choose a boat with both sunny and shaded decks, for a variety of places to spend the days.
The bottom line is that non-divers confined to small quarters with nothing to do all day will be miserable. Fresh air, sunshine, plenty of snacks, and some creature comforts, will make the liveaboard more worthwhile.
What activities are available for non-divers will have a lot to do with where your boat is going. Avoid open ocean destinations like the North Pacific, as they offer little opportunity for swimming and snorkeling.
Likewise, anywhere with rough surface conditions will be uncomfortable for guests spending their entire day onboard. Seasickness is a concern, as is boredom.
If possible, select a location with plenty of optional activities in and out of the water. And, keep environmental factors like the weather in mind. Be sure to book during peak or shoulder liveaboard season to avoid rain and wind.
Many liveaboard destinations like Komodo and The Galapagos Islands have plenty to offer guests, whether they dive or not. But, some advanced planning can help make the most of their vacation. Don’t forget to research extra costs like marine park fees, as well as regulations and logistics concerning non-divers.
What are your non-diving friends planning to do while onboard? There are plenty of activities to choose from, but you need to have some goals up front.
Swimming and snorkeling are standard activities, but quality and enjoyment vary greatly. Be sure to find out whether guests have unlimited access to the water. And, whether they will be able to use RIBs or dive tenders. Also, if your region of choice offers snorkeling with whale sharks or manta rays, be sure that these guests can partake in the experience.
Kayaking, fishing, boating, sailing, freediving, and other watersports are available on select liveaboards. Before booking, check if there are any extra costs for these activities.
Many boats offer courses, and that includes Discover Scuba Diving. Just because members of your group aren’t certified divers doesn’t mean that they can’t dive. If scuba is completely out of the question, a freediving course might be fun.
Shore excursions can be the highlight of some liveaboard trips. Trekking, hiking, wildlife viewing and photography, and more are available depending on your destination.
How long your liveaboard lasts normally depends on your budget and trip goals. But, when you have non-divers in the group, you might need to shorten your dream itinerary. Even if there is plenty to see and do onboard, anything over a week might be uncomfortable for them.
When planning, be sure to consider your time in transit, as well as dive days. Remote destinations like Fiji might require a little extra effort to reach. This consideration is especially important if children are traveling with your group. They tend to be more sensitive to seasickness and boredom onboard.
Remember to plan an extra day at the end of your trip for off-gassing. You should always wait 18 hours before flying but plan conservatively to avoid any issues.
Most boats offer a discounted rate for non-divers joining your group. And, in some cases, it might even cost the same amount as paying a singles supplement.
If you are a solo diver visiting the Red Sea or the Indian Ocean you should look into the cost of bringing a non-diving friend along to share your cabin. For more information, check out our article on liveaboard diving trips for single divers.
If your extra guests want to partake in any extra activities like snorkeling or land excursions, be sure to verify the cost in advance. Also, plan for gratuities and travel expenses just as you would with more divers in the group.
All liveaboard passengers should carry additional insurance for their trip. Call your provider ahead of time to find out if your policy covers extra guests. Many top companies like DAN offer coverage for mixed groups.
VIDEO: DIVING LIVEABOARD TRIP WITH NON-DIVERS